Damning allegations

Olympic Committee knew about sexual abuse in gymnastics since the 1990s, according to court filings

Former gymnast Aly Raisman speaks at the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, (R) a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault charges, in Lansing, Michigan, U.S., January 19, 2018. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) was made aware of sexual abuse in gymnastics as far back as the 1990s, according to recent court documents filed at the at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

As Reuters reports, former USA Gymnastics (USAG) President Kathy Scanlan said in a statement included in the filings that she had alerted the committee to the problem during her tenure at the head of the USAG, between 1994 to 1998. She claimed not only that “little was done” to deal with the sexual abuse, but also that the committee discouraged her from investigating and disciplining professional members who had been accused of sexual misconduct, according to The New York Times.

“USOC’s challenge to USAG disciplining professional members in this fashion (specifically impeding the ability to ban, suspend or investigate a member) would have inhibited me from adequately protecting minor members,” Scanlan said in the statement.

Her allegations have come to light as a result of a lawsuit filed by two-time Olympian Aly Raisman, who is suing USOC, USAG and Larry Nassar, the disgraced Olympic doctor who has been accused of sexual abuse by nearly 200 women and girls. Nassar is serving up to 125 years in prison on charges of criminal sexual misconduct and possession of child pornography.

USAG has been accused of working with Nassar to cover up the allegations against him, and the recent filings suggest that high-ranking officials were concerned about sexual abuse within the sport decades before the scandal came to light in recent years.

The court documents also include a statement from Scanlan’s successor, Bob Colarossi, who said that he too brought his concerns about sexual misconduct to the USOC. In a 1999 letter to the committee, Colarossi accused its members of advising “bare-bones telephonic hearings immediately upon receipt of a sexual abuse complaint,” and of displaying an “apparent indifference to the welfare of young children,” according to the Times.

Since the allegations against Nassar became a matter of national attention, the conflict between the USOC and the USAG has amplified. The USOC has filed a complaint seeking to revoke the USAG’s status as a national governing body. Internally, the USAG has also been plunged into chaos; its entire board resigned in the midst of the scandal.

Read the full story at Reuters and the New York Times.

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